[ISEA2009] Paper: Karla Muñoz, Paul Mc Kevitt, Tom Lunney & Julieta Noguéz – Combining educational games and virtual learning environments for teaching physics with the Olympia architecture


Keywords: emotion, intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), Olympia, probabilistic relational models, serious games, virtual learning environments (VLEs).

Attaining student understanding and motivation for learning is the main challenge of virtual learning environments (VLEs). Educational games easily obtain the student’s attention, which is reinforced by an emotional link established between the game and the learner with a high level of interactivity. This research aims to enhance the human computer interaction (HCI) of a VLE through the addition of specific features present in the architectures of serious and commercial video games. The Olympia architecture, which enables the combination of VLEs or serious games with intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs), is introduced. A new generation of learning environments that synthesise the features of both learning environments can be created. Olympia was evaluated in a particular case study focused on teaching introductory Physics to 20 undergraduate students at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico City Campus. A traditional VLE and an enhanced VLE were implemented. The differences between both environments are in their affective feedback, graphics rendering and game mechanics modules. Probabilistic relational models, i.e. Bayesian Networks, were deployed to infer student knowledge. Weighted hypothesis testing was used in evaluating the effectiveness of Olympia. Results show that students learn in a similar way with both learning environments, although they feel more motivated whilst interacting with the enhanced VLE. Olympia is an effective guideline for the creation of intelligent VLEs. Future work will focus on repeating the experiment on a larger population, creating educational games and enhancing the student model.

  • Karla Muñoz, Paul Mc Kevitt & Tom Lunney Intelligent Systems Research Centre, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, Faculty of Computing and Engineering, University of Ulster, Magee, UK
  • Julieta Noguéz Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico City, México

Full Text (PDF) p. 1099-1108